Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley And Marc Gasol’s Health Pivotal To Playoff Push

Mike Conley Marc Gasol Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
Mike Conley Marc Gasol Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /

It is vital for the Memphis Grizzlies that Mike Conley and Mike Gasol remain healthy and maintaining their star players well should be the Grizzlies’ priority going forward.

The Grizzlies have lost 3 straight and are 4-9 in their last 13 games. Over that 13-game span, they have a net rating of -3.7 and have struggled to create more options on the offensive end aside from Marc Gasol and Mike Conley

They have also struggled on the defensive end some as they have been allowing opponents to score 107 points per 100 possessions.

The recent struggles can be explained with how much responsibility Gasol and Conley have to shoulder to keep this team in the playoff race.

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Conley dealt with a finger injury and played through a sore left hamstring issue until he was forced to sit out the match-up against the Golden State Warriors on December 17.

Gasol showed signs of regression early on in December, although he has managed to bounce back nicely. They will need to manage his minutes so he can have a more consistent offensive output.

Consequently, they have dropped back to the 7th spot in a merciless Western Conference that houses more playoff caliber teams than available playoff spots.

However, the team is built upon solid ground and has two star-caliber players in Conley and Gasol, whom they can count on as they make a push for playoffs. For Memphis to return to playoffs those two stars will need to remain healthy.

This franchise refused to tank and rebuild, which seems like the right decision given Memphis’ current record. The Grizzlies currently being in playoff contention more than makes up for the current cap situation and the veteran studded roster.

Conley is on the third year of a 5 year, $152,605,576 contract which runs through the 2020-21 season with an early termination option in 2020.

Gasol, on the other hand, has a player option in his contract for $25,595,700 next season, which he is likely to exercise given his age.

If the Grizzlies want to remain in the playoff race past this season, they will need to strike a balance between chasing a playoff spot this year and giving their stars enough rest.

Without Conley last reason, the Grizzlies slid into irrelevance and finished the season as a lottery team.

It wasn’t all that bad since the Grizzlies selected Jaren Jackson Jr. in this year’s draft, who has become an important contributor to this season’s success.

However, with one-third of the season already in the rear-view mirror, a similar injury in the coming months would leave Memphis stuck in the middle.

To make matters worse, the roster is predominantly made up of veterans who have been brought in to aid the team’s stars in the playoff race.

Dillon Brooks and Jevon Carter are both promising youngsters to go along with Jackson Jr. This team has made it clear that they’re not in a rebuilding situation to focus on player development.

The playoff race in the west is tighter than ever and J. B. Bickerstaff will need to make some tough decisions during the remainder of the season.

But considering the team’s commitment to its stars, coach Bickerstaff must establish the delicate balance between keeping his stars players on the court to win games and giving them enough rest to avoid injuries and remain a playoff contender the next season.

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The team is in good hands and will continue to be a playoff contender so long as they stick with this approach.